Death of a startup: the Story of the failure of service of questions and answers for College students Inside View

According to Adam Zerner, the idea to launch her own startup, he caught fire in the second year of University, after reading the essay the founder of Y Combinator Paul Graham How to Start a Startup. All second year students studying materials related to startups, Finance, Economics, strategic planning, design and so on. In the summer he began to study languages HTML, CSS, JavaScript and PHP, but has not moved far enough (but was able to write the first prototype of their website).

A third-year student decided to briefly postpone the work on the future service — due to the large academic load. But he, in his own words, dont waste time — walked a few useful courses and learned more about creating your own project. A year later, Zerner finally embarked conceived. The idea was to help prospective students choose the right study — providing information from those who are studying in the University or College at the moment.

Thus the users of the site did not ask to leave reviews about their schools (usually such comments are too vague and do not provide information about the University, says Adam Sarner) and required to answer the specific questions asked by applicants. As I thought Adam Zerner, in order to reach a large number of users of the site, he needed to do two things. In order to attract Inside View on College first students who could provide responses to questions received, Zerner spoke about his service on Facebook and Reddit.

It was not enough. Then the student did some calculations and came to the conclusion that in order to attract users, he will need the money. However, he did not expect that eventually he will have to invest in the development of the site as much as he eventually invested. After the implementation of the demo system, the Creator of the project faced the following challenges.

Realizing the problems, Adam Sarner began to look for ways to fill the site with answers for money. In the end, he signed contracts with three schools from the database. “I just had to find the means for connecting the remaining 297 colleges”.

Then Zerner started to pay for the answers. He paid $1 for every useful feedback. In addition, the founder placed an advertisement service on Facebook (this time with the help of an advertising platform, rather than publish them on their own page), and also launched a referral program. Thus the founder of the College Inside View was able to get five thousand of reviews about the colleges in the ivy League — 98% of them were from six schools (only ivy League consists of eight educational institutions).

In addition, Zerner spent two weeks, phoning representatives of colleges, and offering them to check the reviews on the site for relevance — and also to register and write their own answers applicants. Adam Zerner believed that he has all the chances to quickly collect the necessary funds for the development of a startup. Heres how, according to him, he saw the situation.

I thought the likelihood of obtaining the necessary capital was high enough. The probability of success under the condition of raising capital, I also evaluated close to the right mark. She depended on the other three probabilities. The likelihood of obtaining sufficient number of responses subject to obtaining the necessary capital, the probability of attracting a large number of users, subject to the availability of a sufficient number of relevant answers and the likelihood of generating some revenue if you have a large number of users.

I received many responses from the first three schools, the cooperation with which I made at his own expense. It seemed to me good evidence that the likelihood of receiving responses in the presence of capital is high enough. Now I think that was just wishful thinking on my part.

The probability of attracting users if qualitative responses also seemed high — I still hold this opinion. With regard to the probability of obtaining revenue if certain people here, I focused on their competitors, who earned tens of millions of dollars a year. Investors decision to invest or not to invest in the project, says the Creator of the College Inside View, completely depended on the likelihood of success of a startup in the availability of capital.

“I thought they would agree that this probability is sufficiently high, and decide to Fund it,” says Zerner. So how to find funding to Ternero and failed, he decided to compile his mistakes and tell him what he should do actually. “I think any user subconsciously looking for on the website signals about the competence of its Creator.

The logo of a large company with lots of employees — its a signal. Many users too. The well-designed structure and interface of the site also are from,” says Adam Sarner. I think any user subconsciously looking for on the website signals about the competence of its Creator.

The logo of a large company with lots of employees — its a signal. Many users too. The well-designed structure and interface of the site are such signals. Bad UI — alert for your incompetence.

According to Adam Sarner, now he thinks he really ought to start merely to formulate a minimal working prototype — and after persistently to attract universities and educational institutions to work together. For example, you could offer them to conduct a study of student satisfaction — and thus not only to obtain the necessary feedback, but also earn a first funds. Zerner also notes that he greatly overestimated the desire of people to help each other.

According to him, even his fellow students not to answer questions from prospective students, though it could help his friend.


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